More Equitable Transportation Policy
While Congressional members are back in their respective districts during August, many of them are aware of the work that awaits back in Washington upon their return in September. As reported on this blog and on Transportation for America’s blog, one crucial piece of legislation hangs in the air: the Surface Transportation Authorization Act. The current federal transportation bill is set to expire at the end of September and, with it, the federal funding stream for important transportation projects – including road work and public transit maintenance. With this sense of urgency in mind, Representative James Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has ordered a full markup of the bill once Congress is back in D.C. in September, with the goal of bringing it to the House floor within the third week of that month.
Concurrently, another bill, HR 2724, promotes a comprehensive transportation vision for the nation with specific goals for the transportation network. Of the various objectives within the bill, some stand out noticeably: increase walking, bicycle, and public transportation usage by three times; reduce car accidents by 50%; and double the number of destinations accessible by public transportation. Currently, T4A is waging a campaign to sign House members onto this bill, and its counterpart in the Senate, S1036.
And while all of these objectives aim to increase equity in the transportation system, the research and advocacy organization PolicyLink is calling for a transportation network that benefits all people of America. In its latest policy analysis, All Aboard!: Making Equity and Inclusion Central to Federal Transportation Policy, the message is clear: federal transportation policy needs reform in order to be more inclusive. The research piece establishes core principles for achieving equity in transportation, and recommends these components for inclusion into the transportation bill:
- Increased access to affordable transportation choices
- Increased access to jobs through the transportation network
- Extension of transportation modes to all communities
- Focus on community health
- Promotion of environmentally sustainable communities.
I recommend a read-through of the entire document. Transportation reform requires an overhaul of federal policy, and it is important to take all these perspectives into consideration when the bill is marked-up next month. It is with hope that the Committee will acknowledge these concerns.
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